Being Lisa ~ “Sunshine”


I met Lisa early one dark morning outside My Sweetopia in West End, Brisbane Australia. We were getting ready for a LIV/Giant Ladies River Loop. We pedalled our way around the famous loop, battling our way through peak hour traffic on Annerley Road, ending up on Grey Street…with our names written in our coffee froth. It was a great bunch of women. Smiles all round! I was chatting to her about various bike related things. I asked her about cycling and found out she was a commuter amongst other things. I nearly dropped dead when she sent through her story. She is testimony that you are never too old to participate in any sport or race. What an amazing active woman! 


Here is her story…

From a young kid I’ve always loved sport. Not keen to watch it, always wanted to be part of it. And although I’d give most things a crack I did better if there were wheels or water involved. At 14 I was a keen skater. I was in the speed team with the Miami skate rink. That took every weekend up that I remember at that age. (Oh…until I met BOYS!) At age 16, a friend’s father introduced me to waterskiing (that then included BOYS!) and until the age of about 19 I was spending most of my weekends at Lake Somerset where my cousin and other friends had some ski shacks we called home. (Don’t know how I finished my nursing training, as I was always sick on weekends and had so much time to make up to graduate). Even bought my own boat “DENVER” 350 Chev Camiro for these who “nose” these things. I got to ski with the Sea World Crew, as they were frequent recreational skiers at Somerset in those days.

In my mid twenties I took to motorcycles with a variety of bikes (with motors) from a V800 to an RMX250. Of course they needed to be modified as I’m a little vertically challenged for the trail bikes high suspension. I met my husband around this time and we decided to sell everything we had, bikes, cars, house blah blah and bugger of overseas for 12 months to the UK (as you do). When we returned, and due to Mikes love of the water, we got ourselves a dive ticket each and bought ourselves a beautiful Sparkman and Stephens’s 30ft yacht to play on. Remember the days before children and the disposable income you had?

Anyway, I guess it was about this time 14 years ago, when we returned from our year in the UK and bought ourselves a renovator, close enough to the city that you could ride a bike. I bought myself a mountain bike and with the encouragement of my friend at work Fiona, I started riding to work rather than catching the bus or battling the traffic on Coro drive. It was bloody hard work at first too. I loved the fact that I was getting to work for $0 feeling good getting fit and I could eat all the sweet crap I wanted without feeling guilty.

I changed jobs and started working in the city, yay a bit closer! And was pleased to find many bike-minded like-minded colleagues who also rode to work. Our office looked like a youth hostel with bikes and smelly knicks and towels hanging all over the fire extinguishers. I was convinced by Scotty (one of my mates at work) to buy myself a roadie…I guess it’s where my love for riding began. I bought a Giant TCR and kept it for 10 years, my loyal friend. Many a weekend was spent riding with this little group of friends and their friends and partners, to Wynnum, Cleveland etc. Sometimes Scott and I would head out and do a ride to Wynnum before work or meet at Mount Gravatt and do a lap or two of the mountain. If the weather was fine that is!! I managed to score the nickname of “Sunshine” from one of my colleagues as I only ever rode when the sun was out LOL.

I loved commuting to work and back. It gave me time out to think, sing (out loud sometimes) and generally revitalise for the day or wind down from the day’s end. Mike also started commuting by bike to work so now we are a 1 car family and have been for some years.

2 years ago we took 12 months off work (yes again) and took ourselves on a caravanning trip around Australia (google Barling adventures for a look) due to space constrictions we took NO BIKES…OMG can you imagine! So here you have a family of bike lovers and not one bike not even a folder!! We broke at Kalgoorlie and bought Pippa a bike which we strapped to the back of the van for the rest of the journey. She was happy and it was worth it. Not many, then, 7 year olds can say they rode on the Nullabor!

Since our return we are back to the daily grind of work and straight back into commuting to and from the city. After spending a year OFF the bike I was keen to do a little more than just commute. On my return I found to my delight that my bike minded colleagues and some of their partners were doing Triathlons. I admired their guts and determination. Not only that – they all looked bloody fit and fantastic and I wanted a piece of that pie.

I set myself a goal that I’d train hard at swim, bike and run (god help me I am not a runner) and I would do the Pink Triathlon on the Gold coast. As it worked out my friends were doing the Raby Bay Gatorade Tri the weekend before the pink and I was coerced into doing that one. I did it, I loved it, I will never look back. I came 5th in my age group and was hooked!

The next weekend I did the Pink as did my 8 year old daughter and we have both participated in 8 Triathlons each this season. Pippa has now got 5 other kids from her school involved too. It’s such a great sport to feel good, keep fit and race your own PB.

I went to Mooloolaba and did the bike leg for a team. We had a blast, and I did the bike leg in just under 80min. I was really pleased with my time and have set my goal for an Olympic distance next season ALL BY MYSELF.

At 48 I feel fantastic. You are never too old to start. In my last Gatorade this season I did the sprint distance instead of the enticer…I remember looking around as we floated in the water waiting for the start, thinking ‘Check out all these old girls – they look so fit’ then laughing to myself as I said “Shit! I am one on these old girls!” I came 7th in my gender age bracket. I know I am bragging a bit here, but as besides still being surprised at my own achievement I think anyone who WANTS to do this CAN do this if you just put in a bit of grunt and determination. It’s not rocket science…Determination + hard work = results = self belief.

I’m the healthiest I’ve been for some time and its an activity that sees me doing three different sports, with different bunches of friends. My swim fit ladies with Kerry at Langlands Pool. Kerry taught me technique, so as not to swim to the bottom of the pool like I was…LOL. On top of my daily commute to work I have started some bunch rides and value the support of the fellow riders including Planet Cycles and LIV/Giant. Unfortunately I’m still running/shuffling alone but to be honest I’m okay with that. Some, or most weeks, I don’t get the amount of training in I’d like but it’s a family, work, life, sport, balance hahaha. It takes a lot of organising to fit everything in and around the activities of partners, kids, family and work so I figure I do ok!

This winter I plan to keep training hard…and stay in front of those who slack off…

These days I have a Colnago roadie…a Charge fixie with bright green V rims (yes I do ride in fixed wheel) and a Brompton folder…I need 2 more, which are a mountain (with disc brakes for all the wet weather commuting, it would be nice to have brakes in the wet!) and a Triathlon bike would be a sweet treat. We have 8 bikes between 3 of us. Do we like to ride? You betcha we do!

I no longer carry the name “Sunshine” although I do like it, maybe I should re invent it for myself.  In fact I think now “they” say I’m a little nuts as rain, hail or shine you will see me on the bike track headed to work…when it rains I just put on a smile, a bright light, a raincoat and take it easy.

We now have a bike cage at work to house the 15+ cycles that use to cramp our desk spaces. Thanks Greg!

Happy Biking! 🙂

If you are new to bunch riding and think you might be more comfortable starting out in a women’s only group check out the LIV/Giant Weblink (there is one organised in every state):